Thursday, 19 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Judges 13 : 2-7, 24-25a

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife could not bear children. The Angel of YHVH appeared to this woman and said to her, “You have not borne children and have not given birth, but see, you are to conceive and give birth to a son.”

“Because of this, take care not to take wine or any alcoholic drink, nor to eat unclean foods from now on, for you shall bear a son who shall be a Nazirite of YHVH from the womb of his mother. Never shall his hair be cut for he is consecrated to YHVH. He shall begin the liberation of the Israelites from the Philistine oppression.”

The woman went to her husband and told him, “a messenger of God who bore the majesty of an angel spoke to me. I did not ask him where he came from nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me : ‘You are to conceive and give birth to a son. Henceforth, you shall not drink wine or fermented drinks, nor eat anything unclean, for your son shall be a Nazirite of God from the womb of his mother until the day of his death.'”

The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew and YHVH blessed him. Then the Spirit of YHVH began to move him.

Thursday, 29 August 2013 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 70 : 1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17

In You, o Lord, I seek refuge; let me not be disgraced. In Your justice help me and deliver me, turn Your ear to me and save me!

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for You are my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, o my God, from the hand of the wicked.

For You, o Lord, have been my hope, my trust, o God, from my youth. I have relied on You from birth : from my mother’s womb You brought me forth.

My lips will proclaim Your intervention and tell of Your salvation all day. You have taught me from my youth and until now I proclaim Your marvels.

Passing of Cardinal Ersilio Tonini of Italy, at the age of 99


Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, Cardinal Priest of SS. Redentore a Valmelaina has passed away on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at the age of 99, just a few days after his birthday on 20 July. At 99, he was the oldest living Cardinal in the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Tonini was created Cardinal in 1994 by the late Blessed Pope John Paul II and he was the Metropolitan Archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia, Italy from 1975 to 1990. He was the last Cardinal to have been born in the Pontificate of Pope St. Pius X, the last Pope to be made a saint. Pope St. Pius X passed away exactly one month after Cardinal Tonini was born (20 August 1914). He was also the last Cardinal to have been born prior to World War I, which began just a week after his birth.

We pray for Cardinal Tonini, that he will rest in peace, and God will reward him for all his hard work as the shepherd of the people of God in Ravenna-Cervia and his numerous other contributions to the Church and for the Lord’s sake. May the Lord welcome him into His embrace in heaven and give him eternal rest and happiness that he deserved.

With the passing of Cardinal Tonini, the College of Cardinals now stands at 202 members, with 112 Cardinal-electors and 90 Cardinal non-electors.

There are now 8 Cardinal-elector vacancies in the College of Cardinals, 11 vacant Cardinal Titles (for Cardinal Priests) and 8 vacant Cardinal Deaconries (for Cardinal Deacons)

Monday, 24 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our God loves us, and He loves all of us so much that He is willing to save all of us from the damnation of hell. He sent us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour, the One who redeemed us from the sins of our forefathers, from their rebellion against the love of God. Through Him we are saved, if we accept Him as our Lord, and His free offer of salvation to all of us.

To prepare for the Messiah, the Lord sent His messenger, in the person of John the Baptist, the precursor and the preparer of the way for Christ. His dedication to the mission for which he had been chosen for, and his tireless work had indeed straightened the way for Christ and paved the way for salvation.

Today we celebrate the feast of this great messenger of God and saint, John the Baptist, whose baptisms called the people back towards the Lord through repentance. Repentance allowed the people to set their hearts and minds right, so that they would be in the correct state of heart and mind to be receptive of the Lord and His message that is brought by none other than Christ, His Son and our Saviour.

St. John the Baptist had dedicated his whole life to the Lord, as someone set aside for the works of God, through whose hands God had worked His wonders to the people of Israel, the last of the prophets before the coming of the Messiah, who would eventually liberate God’s people from the tyranny of evil, sin, and therefore death.

God is faithful, and He remembered His covenant that He made with Abraham years ago, with the promise He had made that the descendants of Abraham, all of us, will be fruitful, and will be blessed. Even when the descendants of Abraham, as shown through Israel did not stay faithful entirely to the Lord, but fell into rebellion, in the similar way as their forefathers, God did not give up on us, just as He did not give up on mankind after the disobedience of Adam and Eve, our first ancestors.

We are all precious to God, so precious that despite the covenant broken by our rebellion and our stubbornness against God’s love and compassion, He was willing to forge a new covenant with all of us, and this covenant will never be broken, because this covenant is not made just by God’s words alone, but sealed with none other than the Most Precious Blood of the Lamb of God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who shed His blood from up there on the cross, flowing from His holy wounds, pierced by our sins and our rebellion.

St. John the Baptist had a great part to play in this plan of salvation, not only as the one who helped to bring God’s mission to perfection, and helped to convert many to the cause of the Lord through repentance, but also through his direct role in the initiation of Jesus’ ministry on this world. Through his baptism of Christ on the Jordan, he initiated Christ on His ministry, which began after that baptism, when the Lord proclaimed to the world, that Jesus is indeed His Son, and that His favour is on Him.

His humility that he showed when he declared the identity of Christ to his own disciples, so that He would increase while John himself would decrease in importance is an example for all of us, that whenever we do things, let us remember that we should do it for the greater glory of God, and not to our own personal human glory, and seek the praise of the Lord, and not the praise of man.

We can follow the many examples of Saint John the Baptist, my dear brothers and sisters, that we should emulate him in our lives. To love and serve the Lord with all our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our being, that we truly become the children of God, and people beloved by the Lord our God. May the Lord guide us at all times in our lives, that we will not be led astray in our path towards Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 24 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Luke 1 : 57-66, 80

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing or her, and they rejoiced with her.

When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him.

Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God. A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events.

All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered. “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

Monday, 24 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Second Reading)

Acts 13 : 22-26

After that time, God removed Saul and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.’ It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus.

Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another One is coming whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’

Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you also who fear God, it is to you that this message of salvation has been sent.

Monday, 24 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Psalm)

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15

O Lord, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

It was You who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done.

My heart praises You for Your marvellous deeds. Even my bones were known to You when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.